Monday, April 25, 2005

THE CIRCLE OF SODOM, by Pat Mullan (Authorhouse)

Let me say this about thrillers: they're rarely food for the soul. I enjoy them the same way I enjoy action movies (indeed I frequently find them interchangeable.) And, in so many instances, the movie is better the than the book--quite the contrary to their literary counterparts.

Let me say this, too: if a thriller has a compelling hook, I'll read through a lot of garbage to get to the point.

Fortunately, THE CIRCLE OF SODOM by Pat Mullan, is not garbage--and it is compelling. It's a political thriller that happens to be timely. And timeless.

In the prologue we find an Army Colonel having some sort of bizarre surgery via a MASH unit it Korea (1975) whose only witness is Owen MacDara (our noble protagonist) who is forced to keep the surgery a secret. As the novel begins, we have moved twenty years forward (1975 + 20 = 1995) where MacDara is the head of a financial consulting firm. His Army buddies start getting knocked off and suddenly MacDara is flooded with memories from his days in Korea (a la MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE.) As you can imagine, the conspiracy builds and builds and eventually finds its way to the President (of course), ultimately posing the greatest threat to the American Government that we have ever seen (okay, at least in the top ten.)

Now, if you're not into thrillers, this sounds sorta goofy. But it's not--it's engrossing. I'll admit the book has its usual share of thriller-esque elements (the hot sex that is misplaced, and oddly graphic; the close getaways that even James Bond might second-guess, etc.) But remember, these elements (almost) always exist in this genre and you have accept them and let them unfold accordingly.

With all that in consideration, this book is an even mix of Crichton and Clancy and written equally as well. It's a classic page-turner and almost comes across as though it had been adapted from a screenplay. It's was a guilty read for me. But who cares? I'm guilty of so much anyway.